I had a raw, personal, and honest conversation with Robbie Millward about mental health, suicidal ideation, self-harm and how he struggled with these things in his life, and what he’s done to overcome them.
Robbie is a military veteran and now serves on the Board of Directors for NAMI in New Hampshire where he has taken part in drafting materials that guide how New Hampshire’s state level first responders handle mental health crisis situations. Robbie has overcome a lot with respect to his own mental health and he has used that as a platform to help others.
I was moved by Robbie’s story of his experience with thoughts of self-harm, how he has gotten help and the action plan he has in place to prevent any future self-harm. He also shares about how his daughter has struggled with these thoughts as well and how he has worked with his daughter to overcome those struggles. We go into detail on how to develop an action plan, what to look for and how to respond when a loved one is struggling with suicidal ideation or thoughts of self-harm.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE DISCUSSED:
- Robbie shares about his mental health journey from the time of his childhood, and how some of the things he struggled with as a child evolved into mental health struggles later in life.
- He shares about how he was misdiagnosed with a personality disorder in the military, and it wasn’t until after several more years of struggling and an anxiety attack at work, that required hospitalization, that he was appropriately diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety and PTSD.
- After a while, he thought he was good, so he relaxed on taking medication and seeing his therapist. He began to rely on self-medication which led him back to the hospital in a severe episode of depression.
- One weekend, he went to go snowboarding and got a call that his 14-year-old daughter was in the school counselor’s office struggling with thoughts of self-harm. Robbie raced to get to her and when he did get there, he spent time sharing all his struggles with the same thoughts and problems in his life which seemed to have a profound impact.
- We talked in detail about how both he, and his daughter have developed written action plans for times when they are struggling with thoughts of self-harm. These plans include daily action items such as checking in with a specific handful of people, daily actions and fail-safes for days when he doesn’t check in with those people. Robbie walks us through his safety plan as an example of what one looks like.
- We talked about the signs to look for as a parent to know when your child is struggling with self-harm, or suicidal ideation as well as what to do about it when you do see those signs.
- I asked Robbie where people can go to get help with building a safety plan or finding community support around ideas of self-harm and suicide. He emphasized that the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) has free resources available online and in most communities that can help.
If you are in a state of distress or emergency and need to talk to someone, never hesitate to call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255